Project Management Certifications: Functional and Specialty
You can earn Project Management Certifications in your functional and specialty areas, as well as the generalist certifications offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI)® and PRINCE2®. Project managers should include those options in planning their job hunting, career skills and credentials for advancement. A specialty certification in information systems or commercial construction will put you ahead of a competing candidate who has only a generalist PMI certification.
Project Management Certifications: What Functional and Specialty Certifications are Available?
Project managers can add practical hands-on skills in planning, scheduling, estimating and risk management tailored to their specialty area such as IT, construction, healthcare, business/marketing, and consulting. These programs allow you to add those skills within the framework of your industry specialty so the learning is relevant to the kind of projects you manage. Employers value the practical, real world, hands-on knowledge these certifications provide because your capabilities deliver significant payback on their projects.
These functional and specialty Project Management Certifications also add soft skills in leadership, communications, making presentations and influencing decision-makers. These are not skills that you gain by learning definitions for a multiple-choice exam. The soft skills are best learned in environments where you actually apply the skills in live simulations with your instructor and get feedback on what you do well and what you need to do better. What is particularly effective is video feedback in a simulated meeting with a team member who is not performing well. You’re able to interact with that employee live and in real time. This is accomplished with role-playing instructors who play the role of the poor performing employee. They give you a video of your simulation and feedback on how you handled the interaction. This experiential learning with hands-on coaching is the way to gain expertise and confidence in these communication and presentation techniques.
Project Management Certifications: When Should I Gain Functional and Specialty Certifications?
Planning your career properly requires you to include:
- Earning the multiple-choice based credentials from (PMI)® or PRINCE2®
- Adding hands-on skills in scheduling, estimating, risk management, etc.
- Improving your leadership, presentation skills and ability to influence and persuade people.
It’s helpful to divide your career into a number of stages and pursue the appropriate Project Management Certifications for each stage.
Project Management Certifications: Getting a Job in Project Management
Entering the project management profession is difficult when you have no experience. One credential that can enliven an otherwise dull resume is functional training in areas like scheduling, project management software, budgeting and status reporting. Those are time-consuming tasks for project managers. People with training in those skills, but no actual PM work experience, may be able to join a project management team. Beginner project management certifications give you both the practical skills in the above areas and a credential to add to your resume. They may open the door into project management. There are number of certifications that open the door into an assistant project manager or project coordinator position.
Project Management Certifications: Your First Project Management Job
Once you’ve opened the door into project management with a position on the project management team, your next career step is managing projects on your own. To prepare you for that and give you a credential to secure that opportunity there are number of basic Project Management Certifications in specialty areas like IT, construction, healthcare, business/marketing, and consulting. These certifications do not have the substantial experience requirements of PMI and PRINCE2 certifications. You can earn these certifications in your first year or two working in the project management profession. This first certification is a credibility builder because it is relevant to a particular specialty. If your skills and this credential lead to managing small projects, your PM career is on its way.
Project Management Certifications: Moving Up to Larger and More Complex Projects
When your successes on smaller projects create the opportunity to move up to larger more complex projects (and more compensation,) you may need to add an advanced Project Management Certification. These are particularly relevant in specialty areas like IT, construction, healthcare, business/ marketing etc. These advanced certifications give you sophisticated tools for estimating costs and duration, analyzing risks, managing stakeholders, leading large teams, and making presentations to executives with advanced tracking and status reporting.
Project Management Certifications: The Multiple-Choice Certification
The next step is probably earning a certification from the Project Management Institute (the PMP)® or PRINCE2®. They require 3 to 5 years of experience managing projects. These certifications may not add practical skills but they are certainly credibility builders within your organization and when you’re searching for a new job. At this point in your career, you have a substantial amount of experience, but to earn these certifications, you need to forget most of it. The multiple-choice exams are academic and focused on knowing the detailed steps in a formal project management process. However, the investment of time and effort in gaining these certifications is worthwhile for many people.
Project Management Certifications: Managing Multiple Projects and Portfolios
The final project management career step before you move into an executive management position is to manage multiple projects, programs and portfolios. This requires many new skills beyond those you acquired in managing large projects. You’ll need training for allocating resources across multiple projects based on priorities that you’ve helped the executives establish. The political, communication and presentation requirements for effective multi-project management are substantial. There are Project Management Certifications that give you the practical skills for transition into this highest level of project management.